Sudanese-born Briton Luol Deng said Friday he forgives Atlanta Hawks executive Danny Ferry for racially charged remarks and hopes the incident can aid the fight against racism in the NBA.
Deng, appearing at media day for his new NBA team the Miami Heat, said he`s not interested in nursing a grudge against Ferry, who spoke negatively of Deng`s African heritage as the team considered signing him.
"He`s a good guy overall, but he`s not perfect. He`s got some African in him," Ferry said in a taped conference call conversation that became public.
"He`s a guy who would have a nice store out front that`s beautiful and great, but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you."
Ferry has apologized, and is on indefinite leave of absence from the Hawks.
"I think one of the hardest things to do as a human being and something that we should do more often is forgive," said Deng, 29. "I do forgive Danny. It`s not something that I want to hold on to for the rest of my career or the rest of my life.
"The main focus really should be how we move on forward what are we going to do about it, instead of just pointing fingers and trying to go after each other and be mad at each other."
Deng said he`d like to make the best out of a bad situation by enlisting Ferry to work with him in providing sensitivity training, or with Deng`s foundation for the benefit of people in Africa.
"Now we have a chance to put an end to it," Deng said, "and make sure things like this don`t happen again."
Deng, who won the NBA`s Citizenship Award in April for his community service efforts, agreed in July on a two-year, $20 million deal with the Heat, leaving Cleveland to help fill the void left by the departure of four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James.
A two-time All-Star, Deng spent 10 NBA seasons with the Chicago Bulls before he was traded to the Cavaliers in January.
The Hawks, meanwhile, are trying to regain the trust of fans after the racism scandal that erupted around Ferry and co-owner Bruce Levenson.
Levenson is selling his controlling interest in the team after a 2012 e-mail came to light in which he said, among other things, that "the black crowd scared away the whites" at Hawks games.
The investigation that led to Levenson`s decision started in June, after Ferry made his remarks about Deng in a conference call. He said he was reading remarks made on scouting reports.